Good News Devotional || Day 12

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Good News Devotional || Day 12

Read Luke 9:21-27

Jesus Strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Luke 9:21-22

Observation
Jesus, the whole time during His earthly ministry, knew He was going to be rejected by people who encountered Him. He knew that they would hate Him, mock Him and eventually kill Him, yet he still went to them with the message of the Kingdom of God. He still healed the sick and cast demons out of people. He didn’t rely on people’s approval to do the will of God! He understood what was at stake if He didn’t follow through with God’s plan.

Application
I think about how many times I have failed to follow through with God's plans out of fear of rejection and it saddens me. People pleasing is the opposite of God fearing! God has entrusted us with pushing His Kingdom forward here on this earth. Do I understand what’s at stake if I don't follow through with God’s plan? Am I acting like Jesus and accepting the fact that with this mission will come rejection, suffering and dying to myself? Or am I more worried about what people think, pleasing my flesh and accepting man’s praises?

Prayer
God, give me boldness to advance your kingdom forward today. Break the spirit of fear of rejection and people pleasing out of my life. Help me rely solely on You and not the praises of people. Give me grace to accept the fact that rejection and suffering come with Your plans. Help me not to grow bitter and weary when rejection come, but to always respond with love, care and, humility.

Dan Perkins, Celebrate Recovery Leader  /  North Braddock Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 11

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Good News Devotional || Day 11

Read Luke 6:37-42

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, “Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye” when you can’t see past the log in our own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Luke 6:41-42

Observation
We often see and criticize mistakes others make that we completely overlook in our own lives. Jesus is specifically telling us here that we need to inspect ourselves on a regular basis. We need to deal with those areas that we struggle with and not rationalize the sin by pointing out the same behaviors in others. That is not to say that we should ignore a Christian brother or sister that is openly sinning. They should be confronted about it. However, their actions or behavior cannot be the cause for us to overlook what is going on in our own lives.

Application
Wow, when asked to write about this particular scripture, I felt like it really hit home! This is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time. I would never “inspect” myself, and I would see others around me doing the same things that I was doing. It was very easy for me to see and point out other’s faults and completely ignore my own. This is something that I still find very difficult. I constantly have to be talking to God (1 Thessalonians 5:17), asking Him to show me where I am falling short....pointing out the logs in my eye. I feel that the stronger we grow in our walk with God, the more the Holy Spirit will point these things out to us. I have seen this at work in my own life. At times when I find myself judging or criticizing someone, the Holy Spirit stops me in my tracks and brings it to my attention, and reminds me to look within myself.

Prayer
Lord, you have created our brains to be truly magnificent! Our human nature allows our thoughts to stray away from you and your word. Forgive me for times that I have cast judgment, and help me to see my own flaws in the Light instead of covering them up by calling out the faults of others. Holy Spirit, cleanse my thoughts on a minute by minute basis, and help me to stay focused on God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Mike Pastor, Connect Students Leader  /  Murrysville Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 10

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Good News Devotional || Day 10

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-7

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Observation
In this passage, Paul is giving Timothy a few great illustrations for what faithfulness looks like. The first illustration is about a soldier. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 that we are engaged in a spiritual war against the rulers, authorities, and against the spiritual forces of evil. Just like our country's great military, we are trained, prepared, and given the weapons to carry out the mission set before us. Again, just like any great military, effective service in 'The Army of Christ' calls for singleness of purpose. That means in order to carry out what God has commissioned us to do, we need to become fully devoted followers of Christ.

Application
Everyone in the 'The Army of Christ' has been commissioned with what we call the great commission in Matthew 28:19 - to go and make disciples of all nations. On the same note, God has given all of us in the body of Christ a different talent and function within Christ's Army (1 Corinthians 12). For example, not everyone is a combat medic and not everyone is a fighter pilot. So, if you do not know what your talent and function is within the body, pray about it and take that step of joining one of the many teams we have in our church, you might have a gifting that you didn't know was there.

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given me a great mission in my life to fulfill. Forgive me for the time that I may have wasted getting caught up in civilian affairs and not keeping that singleness of purpose mindset. Give me opportunities today to fulfill that mission. Also, give me clarity for what my gifting is in Your Army and what my function is in the Army of Christ.  In Jesus’ awesome and powerful name, amen.

Jon Rajchel, Connect Students Leader + Production Team  /  White Oak Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 9

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Good News Devotional || Day 9

Read Matthew 4:18-22

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once, they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22

Observation
In Matthew 4, we are introduced to Simon, Andrew, James, John and Zebedee while they are at work, doing what they did day in and day out. It was difficult, physically draining work but it sustained them - providing food and income for their families. It was also a family business for them. Simon and his brother Andrew worked together; as did James and John who worked with their father. Working shoulder to shoulder and relying on each other every day through sunshine, rain, and storms surely would have been challenging. There had to be a bond of trust that they depended on to remain safe while on the boat. They must have loved and respected each other. It was familiar, it was home and they were good at it.

Application
The words that jump off the page for me as I read the scripture are "at once" and "immediately." They imply certainty, a boldness “to stand up and go.” Some might say they were impulsive. I believe that they knew in their hearts who Jesus was and they did not want to miss out on what He had to offer. They were obedient to His call and left EVERYTHING that was familiar. I wonder how many of us would do that. It’s easy to worry about food, clothing and shelter and to let that prevent us from standing up and stepping out when God invites us. But God knows us. And His word addresses this fear – “Therefore take no thought, saying, "What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matthew 6:31-32) and “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Prayer
Lord, I do not want to miss out on any invitation You extend to me. I want to boldly stand up, obey Your voice and go. Life with You is an adventure and You have promised to sustain me and to provide my every need. I trust You. Lead me, Father, and show me what You want me to do. Give me Your strength and encouragement and be my guide. When I get scared or hesitant remind me of Your promises and renew my spirit.

Sandy Spence, Connection Group Leader  /  Murrysville Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 8

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Good News Devotional || Day 8

Read John 8:31-32

Jesus said to the people who believed in him,"You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. John 8:31 NLT

Observation
Jesus was speaking to believers telling them they are His disciples because they are faithful to His teaching.  This is confirmation to me what we have to do to become followers of Jesus Christ.  We have to make a choice to give Him complete control of our lives so we can grow as Christians. The Bible is our instruction manual for how we should live.

Application
As a follower of Jesus Christ we must set aside time to read and meditate on His word daily.  We must take time to pray and listen to the instructions of the Holy Spirit.  When we pray we have a direct line to our Heavenly Father.  In my own every day life I have to crucify my flesh daily so I can do these things.  When I do this my day is so much better and is filled with joy and peace.

Prayer
Father God, thank You for helping me to crucify my flesh daily so that I can remain in Your word.  I am thankful that You have chosen me as one of Your disciples.  I ask, Lord, that You would use me to lead others to Jesus.  In Jesus mighty name.  Amen

Lorraine Brown, First Impressions  /  White Oak Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 7

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Good News Devotional || Day 7

Read Matthew 28:16-20

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Observation
In this passage of Scripture we hear Jesus giving what is known as the “Great Commission” to His disciples. He gives this commission after his Resurrection and before his Ascension The Bible says that some were worshipping and others were hesitant. So what we see here is a mix of emotions and concerns. The disciples weren’t sure what to feel or think because they thought Christ was gone forever and here He is standing before them with words of instruction and encouragement. What a moment for them to decipher what was going on and what will happen in their future.

Application
If you are a parent you remember the day you brought home that little bundle of joy. It was a day of joy and excited expectation or concern of how you were going to raise your precious little one. If your children are now grown and mature and on their own you know the process that it took to get them there. We all come to points in our lives where we must move to the next level, whether it is from pre-school to kindergarten or high school to college or college to the workforce. Whatever that next level is we all, me included, must take on the challenge and GO! Sometimes where we have to go or what we have to do is scary, but isn’t it good to know that the Father promises to be with us? I went through a situation in my life that I had to face a challenge I did not want to do. I was petrified!! I had loving friends pray for me and encourage me to go and when it was time all I could think was to take one step at a time. Needless to say I made it through that day and God was with me the whole time and I can honestly say I have grown and become more courageous since that time in my life. I have been able to teach my daughters the things I went through to help them along their path of life. It’s not always easy, but it is certainly worth it and rewarding afterwards!!

Prayer
Thank You, Lord, that You give us Your word to comfort us as we go in this life and share the Gospel. May we take every opportunity given to us to go, make disciples and baptize in Your precious Holy name. Amen

Leslie Harris, Connection Group Leader + Response Team + Nursery /  North Braddock Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 6

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Good News Devotional || Day 6

Read Lamentations 3:22-30

“But I call this to mind, therefore I have hope. It is because of the Lord’s loving kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great and Beyond measure is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 21-23

Observation
Have you ever done something that affected others negatively? I have and it isn’t pleasant. I have tried at times to justify my choices or even blame others. That’s what the Israelites were doing. They had disobeyed God, turned their backs on Him and ignored God’s call to repent and turn back to Him again. They were blaming God for the situation they found themselves in. God, in His love and mercy, did not wipe them out! Like us, this was multiple times that His people had not listened. God’s response was correction and redirection through captivity. Jeremiah complained some, but looked at God’s Character and reminded himself of God’s compassion, loving kindness and faithfulness.

Application
When I worship, read God’s Word, and spend time in His presence I can see His character and come to know His promises. The Israelites got distracted and lost sight of God’s promises. Before they went into captivity, they were captured by their sin and disobedience. God used the physical captivity to remind them of the hope they had in Him. God is faithful and His plan is abundant new life for all his children! During hard times or unpleasant situations, what are we reminding ourselves? Are we complaining like the Israelites? Or are we getting God’s focus and going forward in this new life He has for us?

Prayer
Dear God, help me to embrace You and all Your promises! Help me to see clearly Your wonderful plan for my life. When situations seem overwhelming, help me to surrender them to You! Help me not to sink in despair and lose sight of You! Help me to repent if I need to, and to remind myself of Your faithfulness and promises, so I might live the abundant new life with You. Amen.

Beth Kytka, Missions Team  |  North Braddock Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 5

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Good News Devotional || Day 5

Read Romans 6:1-14

Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:14

Observation
Sin is the tool the devil uses to keep us distant from a relationship with God. As we reflect upon our lives we can all find patterns of recurring sin that holds us back from becoming everything that God has called us to be. But Romans 6 shows us the incredible promises of God. These verses clearly explain how sin does not have power over us, but rather Christ has power over sin. Verse 14 explains that sin is not our master, but instead, we live in the freedom of God's Grace. When Christ sacrificed his own life, he broke the power of sin over all our lives and provided a way to overcome the attacks of the devil.

Application
Every day the devil will use different schemes to tempt us back toward sin. Yet, God has provided the tools and means necessary to overcome these temptations through Christ. Equip yourself with scriptures like Romans 6 and Ephesians 6. Read them, study them, carry them with you when you come up against a temptation from the devil. Remind yourself daily that you live under the freedom of God's grace and through the power he has given you, you can overcome and defeat the temptations the devil puts before you.

Prayer
God, I thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son, that He came so that we may have eternal life with You. Thank You for providing a way for us to overcome the sinful patterns in our lives and for a forgiveness we can not comprehend. Help us to walk in the freedom of the grace that You have provided and move courageously forward, leaving behind the sins of our past. Amen.

Ryan Herman, Audio Tech  |  Murrysville Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 4

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Good News Devotional || Day 4

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

Even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:5 NLT

Observation
Jesus is life. Because of the resurrection we have life abundantly and eternally. What a gift. What a Savior! Our Father desires for each of us to live victorious lives. He sent His Son to make a way through the blood of the cross. We need no longer live as slaves to sin or to be in emotional bondage. Our God has set us free!

Application
How can I show my appreciation for what Jesus has done for me? What choices can I make today that will bring honor to God? The Holy Spirit longs to come alongside us. He cries out to us, “Let Me empower you.” Resources beyond our comprehension are available to us as we yield our lives to God. Jesus desires to flow through each one of us.

Prayer
Father God, release the dear Holy Spirit to anoint me in such a way that I would be more like Jesus. Be glorified, be magnified, be exalted in my life.

Bob Fagin, Usher  |  White Oak Campus

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Good News Devotional || Day 3

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Good News Devotional || Day 3

Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-17

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:9

Observation
Earlier in Chapter 5, Paul explains how the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, and that we have an eternal home with God in the heavens. Therefore, we have two places where we are citizens – home (in eternity) and away from home (here on Earth). Paul goes on to write about how we as Christians sometimes get frustrated with being away from our homes in heaven, and how it is easy for us to “groan and be burdened” while we wait to be restored in the Kingdom. But we are not ruled by what we see! We walk by faith in God, and in the assurance of knowing that He has our futures in His hands, that He has created a place for us, and that He has given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of His promises. And so, with the peace that comes with KNOWING this to be true, we can make it our aim to please Him, no matter our present circumstances.  

Application
What would it look like if we put verse 9 into action? What if, instead of groaning and complaining about our circumstances, we approached our lives here on earth with the aim of having our words, attitudes, and hearts be pleasing to the Lord? How would our homes change, our families, our workplaces? Let’s make it our aim today to lift our eyes to heaven, and to approach every area of our earthly lives with the goal of pleasing Him!

Prayer
Lord, I know that you have my future in Your hands and that You have created a place for me. Help me to not be distracted by my present circumstances, but to be fully focused on the things of heaven and the things that are pleasing to You. I choose today to walk by faith and not by what I see, to have a cheerful heart in all circumstances, and to honor You with my thoughts, words, and actions.

Madison Spence, Next Steps Team Leader  |  Murrysville Campus

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